|Comments on Monday 17 May 2004:|
|Rayman 2, the computer game. Horrible. It's quite a lot like Beyond Good and Evil, but with all the good things taken out, and all those horrible things about which I said "ooh, that's clever, they avoided that horrible thing by doing something posh" when playing Beyond Good and Evil put in, some of them tenfold.|
There are a lot of what's known in the game review world as "jump puzzles", where "jump" is key, and "puzzle" is a lie. Beyond Good and Evil involved jumping, but there was no jump that would drop you off a ledge and kill you. Rayman 2, on the other hand, consists of almost nothing but falling off ledges. Not even while jumping - if you run at a slight angle to that of the ledge, you will fall off it.
Why would you run at a slight angle to that of the ledge? It's pretty much impossible not to thanks to the insane camera. The controls are relative to the camera rather than to the character, so if you press 'up' you go 'into' the screen. I don't mind that at all, especially not when you can rotate the camera. However, while you can indeed rotate the camera manually, it will immediately start rotating back to the direction Rayman is facing. You also can't rotate it when there's a wall 'behind' where you want it to face. You also can't rotate it at key moments, where 'key' seems to be defined as "any time you might want to rotate the camera because you know there's something within eyeshot of Rayman but you're not quite certain about where". Other moments of special uncontrolled camera movement include "when you are falling and need to direct your fall to land on a ledge" (at which point the camera will point upwards so you can't tell where the ledge is), and "when you are doing one of the fast subgames and need to know where the road goes" (at which point the camera will fly as close to the ground as possible so that whenever there's the slightest bump in the road you can't see what's coming next).
By contrast, Beyond Good and Evil does the same thing, but when it moves the camera automatically it moves it to where you would want it to be, rather than the exact opposite place (except during certain key movie-style action moments which is forgivable because it makes the scenes more fun), and, for bonus points, it allows you to get a zoomable first-person perspective whenever you want to look around, from which I will take a lesson in case I ever make a game of similar third-person viewpoint.
The final straw (about 88% of the way through the game I think) was the controls for a flying thing towards the end. Reasonable enough (though annoying) reversal of the up and down controls, but bloody stupid use of left and right; they simultaneously do the Elite control thing (rotating anticlockwise and clockwise respectively) and the other flying games control thing (turning left and right), such that holding left would cause you to spiral. You can also, by holding a button, make left and right do just the Elite-style thing. What you can't do, therefore, is turn left or right without rotating, nor counteract the rotation at the same time, because to do so would use the same control in opposite directions. You then have to fly this stupid-controlled device along narrow corridors with 90-degree turns (which you can't see around at all until a few seconds after you've turned them thanks to the aforementioned stupid camera); corridors which are full of catwalks whose distance from the vehicle is indistinguishable thanks to minimal shadows. One touch of a catwalk and you die and have to start the level again. A lot of the time you can see neither catwalks nor vehicle, as the camera is too slow to turn a corner, or there is a catwalk between the camera and the vehicle (or between the camera and other catwalks). In the end, the whole game feels like a game of trial and repetition rather than skill because you can so rarely see what it is you're supposed to be dealing with. And it's not as pretty as Dragon's Lair, the original popular game of trial and repetition.
The only good thing I can think of to say about the game is that perhaps it contributed in some small way to the development of Beyond Good and Evil - probably as a thing from which they learned all the stupid annoying things that they needed to avoid.
(The installer also crashed and put shortcuts in the wrong places, the game doesn't let you configure your controller and won't use a secondary controller, and it crashed whenever I tried to change resolution.) [13:52]